© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Dominic Thiem is playing at the Western & Southern Open for the first time since 2017.

Thiem: 'The Draw Is Super Strong'

Smart scheduling the key for Austrian star

Dominic Thiem believes that the lack of fans at the Western & Southern Open and at the upcoming US Open will play a big factor in the fortunes of every player over the next few weeks in New York.

“Tennis is such a mental sport, and I guess it makes it way more difficult without fans, because I just imagine playing in the fifth set on Arthur Ashe, night session, way past midnight, and in a normal year you get so much energy from the fans,” said Thiem during a virtual press conference over Zoom on Friday.

“They give you so much, all this atmosphere. And now, in an empty stadium, maybe your coach and your team there, that makes it, I guess, very, very lonely, very, very tough. That's going to be a very interesting thing to experience. But it's the same for everybody. The one who will do it the best, who will manage these special circumstances the best, will be the one who lifts the trophy at the end.”

Second seed Thiem, the 2016 and 2017 Western & Southern Open quarter-finalist, will play Filip Krajinovic or a qualifier in the second round. It will be his first match since 22 February at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

“Honestly, I'm zero per cent nervous or scared about travelling here,” said Thiem. “I think we are safer than anywhere else on the whole planet. It's different. The one who wins the title here definitely deserves it, and players-wise or draw-wise, it's worth the same like every year.... The draw is still super, super strong.

Looking ahead to the resumption of the ATP Tour, after a five-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Austrian says, “You have to play your cards smart there… Definitely until the end of the season, it's super busy and also not going to be easy to make a good schedule, to play all those tournaments physically and mentally 100 per cent. But I will try to do my best now.”

Thiem has a big opportunity to consolidate his position at No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with a big run, having just 10 points to defend over the next few weeks.

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